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Chicago hospitals cancel appointments after weekend unrest

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 6/1/2020 By Lisa Schencker, Chicago Tribune
a man standing in front of a store: The University of Chicago Medicine Adult Emergency Department in 2017. © Nancy Stone / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS The University of Chicago Medicine Adult Emergency Department in 2017.

Several Chicago-area health systems canceled patient appointments Monday following a violent weekend and disruptions to public transit schedules.

University of Chicago Medicine closed all of its outpatient centers Monday, including those in Orland Park, the South Loop, River East, River North, South Shore and the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine in Hyde Park. The system also canceled all elective surgeries and closed curbside testing for COVID-19 at its Orland Park and Hyde Park locations for the day.

University of Chicago Medicine’s emergency departments remained open, and it continued to treat and accept patients for overnight care.

The system enacted the closures and cancellations “out of an abundance of caution,” according to an email sent by the system’s incident commander to faculty and staff Sunday evening.

“We weren’t sure if our staff would be able to get to those sites due to the transportation shutdowns across the region and we wanted to give patients who were traveling in for appointments as much lead time as we could,” spokeswoman Ashley Heher said in an email.

The Chicago Transit Authority was shut down Sunday night and resumed limited service Monday morning after fallout over the treatment of George Floyd, who died at the hands of the Minneapolis police last week.

Other hospitals also made last-minute changes.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital, which is Streeterville, an area where looting took place, asked ambulances to stop bringing new patients to the hospital for about two hours, from about 11:30 p.m. Saturday to 1:30 a.m. Sunday, said Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health. Northwestern went on ambulance bypass and a shelter-in-place on the recommendation of the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications, she said.

A spokesman for Northwestern did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

Lurie Children’s Hospital closed an immediate care clinic in Lincoln Park for Monday and Tuesday because of protests in the area Sunday night, said spokeswoman Julie Pesch.

The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, a rehabilitation hospital near Northwestern, also delayed plans to reopen many of its outpatient services downtown Monday. The hospital has, in recent weeks, mostly treated outpatients using telehealth because of the coronavirus. It had planned to ramp back up outpatient services Monday.

Some AbilityLab employees were having difficulty getting downtown because of the public transportation disruption, and others were having trouble getting through security checkpoints, said spokeswoman Megan Washburn.

The medical shutdowns come as many hospitals are trying to restart outpatient services and elective surgeries after many of those services were paused because of COVID-19. At one point, Illinois hospitals were losing an estimated $1.4 billion a month because of lost revenue due to a drop in non-COVID-19 patients and canceled elective surgeries — losses that led a number of area hospital systems to furlough workers and make other cuts.

This story has been corrected to say the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab was preparing to ramp up outpatient services Monday, not inpatient services.


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